We all dream on those holidays when we can visit remote places like India, Peru or Iceland, or just take a weekend (or two) abroad. However, if you’re like me, you wake up of your travel daydreaming when you see the high-ticket prices search motors give you.
The good news is that there is a way to find not only cheap tickets to your dream destination but also error fares that will blow your mind.
Error fares = wow deals
Airlines have many complex computer algorithms working simultaneously which can sometimes cause a pricing error when issuing a ticket. A simple human error can make a ticket hundreds or thousands cheaper, for example, if the last 0 is omitted. Price conversion can also generate a huge miscalculation in prices. Some pages specialize in finding error fares allowing you to find tickets to far away destinations or even business class tickets for a ridiculously low price. However, these error fares last only a few hours, until discovered by the airline. So if you find a fare that appeals to you buy it ASAP, because the deal won’t last long.
Here are some of my favorite error fare pages:
They specialize in calling out error fares. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter, and you’ll get hot deal alerts every day.
Another great error fare finder. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter and get alerts every day.
Many times when you find an error fare and want to book it, it is gone; but with Holiday Pirates’ app, you get a travel alert on your smartphone when as soon as it pops up.
Also, HolidayPirates features a fees calculator where you can enter your type of credit card and your baggage when searching for a flight. It will then give you exactly what the final price will be so that you will have no surprises when booking your ticket.
Search motors that help find good deals:
Skiplagged specializes in revealing airlines mistakes and giving you cheap airfares. They make such a good job that American Airlines sewed them.
Airfarewatchdog it’s a site that has people instead of computers looking for deals and unpublished sales, so instead of getting notifications when the prices drop $3 you’ll get an alert when there is a considerable change in price.
Azuon: it is a desktop application for finding good deals from low-cost airlines around the world. It facilitates booking through airline websites.
Be aware that error fares can last some days, but the hot ones can be gone in some hours. So it is smart to book a ticket even if only to “hold” it for a day.
Most airlines have a 24-hour free cancellation policy, so there is no risk when booking an error fare even if you’re unsure about it. Always check the cancellation policies since the times can vary from an airline to another one. You can always call the next day and cancel the ticket if you change your mind.
When you find an error fare or a very cheap ticket jump on it, and DON’T CALL THE AIRLINE, or they will “fix” the error.
What are the risks of buying an error fare?
It usually goes fine, but it can happen that an airline decides not to accept an error fare ticket. In such a case, they will refund you the price and cancel the ticket.
After booking an error fare, you need to wait for your confirmation, which can be immediately or take some days. If you get impatient about your ticket, your can ask on SecretFlying or FlyerTalk if others have received their confirmation. Again: Do not call the airline to ask them about your error fare ticket! You’ll be jeopardizing the deal (and your trip).
Other ways of saving big on flight tickets
After booking a flight check the next morning if the price fell. If so, cancel your flight and re-book without penalty.
Get a credit card that gives you travel awards
I know people that get to travel very cheap using the miles accumulated with airline-affiliated credit cards. Another option is to check which cards offer you points that can be transferred into awards. Ask Mr. Credit Card for his travel rewards calculator.
Check the airline’s website
Sometimes airlines host private sales, reserving the best offers on their websites.
“Like” the airline’s Facebook page:
You can snap a wow deal since many airlines can give good offers to Facebook followers.
Become a frequent flyer
Sign up as a frequent flyer of one (or more) airlines to collect miles and exchange them for tickets. Miles can be acquired in different ways:
- Buy them: for my last ticket to Peru, I needed some miles to get an award ticket. Lucky for me, there was a “miles sale” on KLM, which allowed me to buy those miles for a very low price.
- Check out the airline’s deals with shops, restaurants, car rentals, hotels, etc. You can earn lots of miles without even boarding a plane!
- Sign up for you frequent flyer’s mailing list and get great deals dished out on your mailbox.
Final tips on booking a flight ticket:
The best time to book
Airline’s websites have a high time and low time. During the low time, usually at night, in the middle of the week, is the best time to book your flight, since you will hit better prices. Some people even say that the best prices can be found from Tuesday to Wednesday, between 4 am to 6 am (local time of the website).
According to statistics, it seems like the best time to book a flight is between 30 and 8 weeks before departure.
Always check the final price before committing to a ticket
Although you can find good prices on flight search engines like Skyscanner or Momondo, keep in mind that you can still find better fares at the airline’s website. Since the final price can be higher when adding the credit card payment fee, the baggage allowance, etc. click the booking until the last step both on the search engine and on the airline’s website. Only then you will be able to see if there is a price difference.
Search on private mode
The solution is to search your flight in private mode. To go on private mode do the following:
- In Google Chrome or Safari: hit “Command” or “Control” > “Shift”> “N”
- In Mozilla Firefox or Explorer hit “Command” or “Control” > “Shift” > “P”
By doing this your search information will not be tracked, hence not inflating the prices as you search.
You can also try searching and booking from different computers.
if you’re traveling for an indefinite time: some airlines can refuse you to check-in if you don’t have a return ticket to your original country, even if you have cleared this out with the Embassy or Consulate of the country you are traveling to, and even if you have a territory exit ticket.
To avoid surprises and a bad time at check-in, always double check with your airline that boarding is allowed with a one-way ticket.